Whether you’re practicing vocal duets of choral music, classical pieces, opera, musical theatre or pop styles, the elements of an effective vocal duet are surprisingly uniform. Effective practice and performance technique for singing in a duo crosses style and genre, and comes down to a few universal points that can help hone your performance to make it a memorable one.
An often-overlooked element of making a vocal duet work is checking if the key works: you now need to factor in two vocal ranges! Sticking to the original key can be the worst decision a singer makes if it’s out of reach. Finding a comfortable yet effective key signature for both parts is the strongest start you can have when singing a duet.
Are you prepared? Do you know your partner’s parts as well as your own? You don’t need to be able to sing them perfectly, but if you know exactly where in the music you and your partner come in and what you’re both doing it will help you learn and know your part better too. It’s easy to tune-out when it’s not our bit, but learning both parts in your mind will improve singing confidence because you’re present and know exactly what’s coming next.
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Your performance needs to make sense as a pair, so you can’t just do your own thing as you would for a solo. Have you decided how are you going to interact together? It should be part of your practice routine to plan and incorporate what you are going to do at key moments in the song. Does your interaction support the story and emotion of the lyrics? Are you performing as a vocal duo?
Similarly, it’s important to study if there are any parts where one voice needs to be a supporting harmony and one is the lead vocal. If this occurs in your duet, you will need to practice not overpowering the other vocal line so that you are well balanced, and vice versa.
A good way to do this is to add your dynamics and expression into your practice routine as early as possible. It’s much harder to ‘unlearn’ something wrong than it is to learn it right early on; if you’ve been belting that pianissimo section from the start, it can be very hard to rein it in and pull back a week later!
PlayScore 2 provides the perfect way to practice vocal duets on your own. Using the app as an accompaniment tool, you can playback your sheet music and sing along every time you practice your piece. PlayScore 2 will recognise dynamic and expression markings on your printed scores, and you can additionally change the instrument sounds, volume settings and tempo in the app. Learning and practicing your vocal duets alone has never been easier.